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The Taj Mahal Agra

  As Taj Mahal is to India …. this country’s most famous architectural wonder so is the Statue of Liberty to America, the pyramids to Egypt and the leaning tower of Pisa to Itlay. 
Variously defined as `A materialized vision of loveliness’; `A poem in stone’; `A dream in marble’; `A Noble Tribute to the Grace of Indian womanhood’; `A Resplendent immortal Tear-drop on the cheek of Time’; `A monument of Love’; `A wonder of the world’; the Taj Mahal is representative of the glorious Mughal Age and is a unique gift of the medieval period to the people of India.

The construction of this marble masterpiece is credited to the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan who erected this mausoleum in memory of his beloved wife Arjumand Bano Begum; known as Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel or chosen of the palace) who died in A.D. 1630 after she had given birth to his fourteeth child, Gauhar-ara-Begum. Her last wish was ` to build a tomb in her memory such as the world had never seen before’. Thus Shah Jehan vowed to erect a sublime mausoleum in her memory. It was named the Taj Mahal, a peerless monument in pristine marble. 

Taj is simply Taj, unique and incomparable. In the entire diction there may not be a word that aptly describes or characterizes it, and in man’s entire architectural world hardly a building structure gives an idea of how Taj looks like. Brush and colours may recreate on canvas Taj’s likeness but not the illusiveness that it creates, the heights that it possesses, the magic that it works, or the mysticism that pervades around. The Taj is not a thing which one might see by someone else’s eye, or rather even by one’s own eye, for this eye too beholds only its partial truth, as when the beholds it a second, or third time, it simply asks itself”, did I ever see this splendour before?”.

 Taj MahalThe Taj, a marvel among buildings, belongs to an age when leisure added zest to living and appreciation was meant to be savoured slowly. Discovering the secrets of the Taj is like discovering the different moods of a woman, for it not only changes colour according to the time of the day but also with every change in the season. The Taj sparkles like a jewel at night; golden, as the semi-precious inlaid stones on the main mausoleum catch the glow of moon and silver ,as the light of full moon shines upon the cool,white dome.Though the extreme magnificence and beauty of the Taj can be appreciated best in the subtle moonlight , the radiance of dawn and the orange glow of the sunset also illumine the splendour of this most beautiful monument,rendering it pinkish in the morning and milky white in the evening.Its stunning architectural beauty is said to have a life of its own,a life that leaps out of the marble.

The Taj Mahal is probably the most famous building in the world. Its picture has covered many magazines and travel brochures, and everyone has probably seen a picture of it, but nothing really compares like the real thing - the Taj Mahal looks a lot better in reality than on a picture. Even those who come to see the Taj with high expectations never fail to be overwhelmed by its beauty.

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan to enshrine the body of his wife, Arjumand Bann Begum (Mumtaz Mahal) after she died in 1630 at Burhanpur in South India. The construction started in 1632 and was completed in 1653. The workforce of some 20,000 included craftsmen from Italy, Persia and Turkey. It is built by the bank of the Yamuna river not very far from the Agra Fort.

The whole structure is more than 55 meters high built in white and yellow marble. The Taj Mahal is flanked by two smaller red stone buildings, one a mosque and the other a rest house. Outside the walls surrounding the tomb, you'll be harassed by many hawkers, but the Taj and the surrounding gardens are haggler free, so even with the huge crowds visiting the mausoleum,Taj Mahal Minaret it is a relaxing place. Most people spend several hours around the Taj or in the gardens, which are well maintained. One of the things that surprised me in India was that the lawn was not cut with a lawnmower, but cut manually! The gardens has a geometrical structure, and is believed to symbolize paradise.

To enter the mausoleum, you need to put a cloth around your feet like for any temple in India. You can rent it for a small fee just before the stairs leading to the tomb. If you want to go barefoot, you will certainly burn your feet on a sunny day due to the marble heating up under the Indian sun. Inside the mausoleum it is surprisingly chilly. The interiors are rather dark, and on first sight there's not much to see, but if you take a closer look you will see all the fine marble carvings decorated with many precious and semiprecious stones of any color (sapphire, topaz, coral,...) . If you're accompanied by a guide, he will certainly show you that a lot of the interior decorations are made of transparent marble. In the middle of the room inside the Taj, a screen of carved marble surrounds the cenotaphs of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan, also built exclusively in marble, with (calligraphy and other) inlay work.

If you like your photo to be taken in front on the Taj (where Lady Di's picture was taken), there's several professional photographers that will take your picture and have it developed by the time you leave the compound. I don't know the exact price, but it wasn't too exaggerated for a unique picture. Of course, you're free to take pictures yourself at that place, but you'll probably have to line up


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